I have a friend who once preached for about 15 minutes on Hezekiah 2:15 “Cleanliness is next to godliness.” What was his point; and what is mine? Do we listen? Do we know the Word? Are we just too polite to object? Or worse still, too unsure of ourselves to challenge that which isn’t right?
Sometimes our studies need to involve us in each of these questions. Are we listening to the Word? Not just from the pulpit, but from the Book itself? Are our eyes open to what it is actually telling us?
I will begin here. Sometimes there are things we assume are scriptural, that are not (this also fits in with our second question of “Do we know the Word?”. But, there are truths and teachings in the Bible that sometimes we need to look for!
One clear example of this is “the Trinity.” If you Google it, check the concordances, or diligently search the Scriptures – you will NOT find the word in the Bible anywhere. Does this mean it is one of those Hezekiah passages? NO. While the word does not appear, the reality of the concept is plain!
The baptism account of Jesus is the easiest starting point in our search for the Trinity. Matthew 3:16-17 tells us: “As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased (NIV).” So Jesus is present – check, and the Spirit of God descends – check, and a voice from heaven speaks of a son, therefore the speaker is a parent [Father] – check. Jesus (God the Son), the Voice (God the Father), and the dove-like spirit (God the Holy Spirit) are all evidenced. Here is God in a triune nature – or the Trinity.
Jesus makes several references to God as His Father [John 16:28; Matthew 26:39; John 5:19] and promises the coming of an advocate and comforter (The Spirit) [John 14:15-17]. These elements of fundamental Christian belief then are evident, even if the “word” doesn’t appear. The idea does.
Far more interesting to me, but no more important, is the opening of both John’s Gospel, and the Book of Genesis. Both are similar in their introduction. John begins: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men (verses 1-4 NIV).” and Genesis: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. . . .” Both speak of the creative act of God. But John clearly states that the Word (Logos) was present with the creator, and was intimately connected with the creative act. It is interesting that the Greek text uses Logos or Word to describe the “One who would become flesh and dwell among us (that is the Son).” It goes on to say that without Him, nothing that was made would have been made. So look at Genesis, it is indeed Word that is involved in the creative act. Each of the six days of creation begin with God “saying” “Let there be . . .”.
Hebrew linguistics also adds to our search for the Trinity. “In the beginning Elohim created . . . .” In Hebrew the ending of the word in an “IM” denotes masculine plurality. Yet, the God who is creating – is creating as a singular being. In Judaism, the use of Elohim is always seen as a singular. Yet, this does not preclude that in its origins it was a recognition of the nature of God’s plural nature.
One rabbi [Singer] has argued that since it is understood to be a singular, and used as such, we should overlook the use of “IM”in this case as meaningless. He goes on to discuss “the Hebrew word חַיִים (chayim), meaning “life.” Notice [he says] that this word contains the identical plural suffix “im,” as in Elohim, yet it repeatedly means “life”, in the singular, throughout the Bible” [see Genesis 27:46 and Job 10:12]. With all due respect to the rabbi, whose Hebrew must be infinitely better than mine; it ignores another key theological point: We are made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27) and this can be argued that we too are triune in nature having body, mind and spirit. This human creation passage returns us to our Elohim point.
The construction of previous verse in the Adam account is interesting: “Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth (verse 26 NASV).” God (singular, yet with plural construction) creates (using the singular verb) “in Our (plural)” image.
So, what doesn’t the Bible say? It doesn’t say “Trinity.” But, it does teach it!
Food for thought,